2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EST, the second estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m., and Chicago PMI for February at 9:45 a.m.
3. -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday surged on a raft of good economic data and as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled ongoing support for accommodative monetary policies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished Wednesday's session within striking distance of its all-time high. The index jumped 175.24 points, or 1.26%, to close at 14,075, just off its all-time closing high of 14,164. The S&P 500 jumped 19.05 points, or 1.27%, to close at 1,516. The Nasdaq increased 32.61 points, or 1.04%, to finish at 3,162.26.
4. -- Friday is the deadline for when across-the-board spending cuts will kick in unless President Obama and Congress can reach an agreement. But the likelihood of that happening is dim. Obama will meet with top congressional leaders, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner, on Friday at the White House.
5. -- J.C. Penney's ( JCP - Get Report) fourth-quarter loss widened from a year earlier as sales plunged almost 30%. The department store chain on Wednesday posted a quarterly loss of $552 million, or $2.51 a share, wider than the year-earlier loss of $87 million, or 41 cents a share. The adjusted loss in the period was $1.95 a share; analysts forecast a loss of 18 cents a share. Fiscal fourth-quarter revenue fell 28.4% to $3.88 billion and same-store sales fell 31.7%. Analysts expected the retailer to post revenue of $4.09 billion.
6. -- Groupon ( GRPN - Get Report), the daily deals company, missed Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings estimates. Groupon reported on Wednesday a fourth-quarter adjusted loss of 5 cents a share on revenue of $638.3 million. Analysts were looking for earnings of 3 cents a share on revenue of $638.4 million. Operating cash flow in the quarter plunged 61% to $65.7 million from $169.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. The company provided first-quarter guidance that was sharply below Wall Street expectations. Groupn expects sales to be between $560 million and $610 million, a year-over-year increase of between 0% and 9%. Wall Street analysts are expecting sales of $647.7 million.
7. -- Earnings are expected Thursday from retailers Sears ( SHLD), Kohl's ( KSS - Get Report) and Gap ( GPS - Get Report).
8. -- The Securities and Exchange Commissioner has escalated an investigation into suspicious trades placed ahead of the $23 billion takeover of H. J. Heinz ( HNZ), focusing on a complex derivative bet routed through London, The New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the matter.
9. -- The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Jacob Lew as Treasury secretary. The vote was 71 to 26 to support the nomination. A total of 25 Republicans and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted against Lew's confirmation.
10. -- Royal Bank of Scotland ( RBS), which is 82%-owned by British taxpayers, posted a loss for the year of 5.971 billion pounds ($9 billion) compared with a 2011 loss of 1.997 billion pounds.
-- Written by Joseph Woelfel >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.